From today, Court of Protection hearings will be held in public by default following the publication of a transparency Pilot Practice Direction,
The Practice Direction will apply to new proceedings issued from today onwards. Hearings scheduled already under the old rules will not be changed but some urgent open hearings will feed through to the courts from next month.
The Practice Direction effectively changes the default position to one where hearings are held in public with reporting restrictions to protect identities. This means that when an order has been made under the pilot, both the media and the public will be able to attend, unless a further order has been made which excludes them. This will also apply to proceedings issued pre-29 January but where a further hearing becomes necessary after the start date.
HMCTS is also changing the display of court lists, so that they provide a short 'descriptor' of what the case is about, allowing the media and members of the public to make an informed decision on whether to attend the hearing. Lists will be published on a weekly basis in court buildings and online at www.courtserve.net, though the new style list does not seem to be in operation as of today.
The pilot is expected to run in all regions for at least six months (with the possibility of extension) to allow for the changes to be fully tested.
You can read more on the MoJ website here.
The Pilot Practice Direction and other related documents can be found here.
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